Bronze statuette of an artisan with silver eyes

Late Hellenistic
ca. mid-1st century B.C.
Bronze, silver
H. 15 7/8 in. (40.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1972
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This statuette is remarkable for its synthesis of Hellenistic immediacy and Classical composure. The figure can be identified as an artisan by his dress and muscular build. Particularly telling is the pair of wax tablets tucked in his belt—the equivalent of a note pad—on which he would have written or drawn with a pointed stylus. The portrait is imbued with great psychological power and may represent a famous, even mythological, figure. For example, he may portray the Homeric hero Epeios, who with Athena's help carved the Trojan horse. It has also been proposed that he is the legendary master craftsman Daidalos, who built the labyrinth at Knossos, or even the famous fifth century B.C. Athenian sculptor Phidias, creator of the chryselephantine cult statue of Zeus at Olympia and master craftsman of the sculptures of the Parthenon on the Athenian Akropolis.

  • Provenance

    Said to be from North Africa, possibly Cherchell, Algeria

    Before 1953, said to have been found in the sea off the North African coast, probably at Cherchell, Algeria; said to have been given as a present to J. Bousquet, Rodez (Aveyron), France; 1953, given as a present to Louis Édouard Balsan, Rodez (Aveyron), France; 1953-72, collection of Louis E. Balsan, Rodez (Aveyron), France; acquired in 1972, purchased from Louis E. Balsan.

  • References

    Boucher-Colozier, Et. 1965. "“Un bronze d’époque Alexandrine: Réalisme et Caricature.”." Fondation Eugène Piot, Monuments at Mémoires, 54: pp. 25-38.

    von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1975. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965-1975, : p. 117.

    Himmelmann, Nikolaus. 1981. "Realistic Art in Alexandria." Proceedings of the British Academy, 67: p. 205.

    Himmelmann, Nikolaus. 1983. Alexandria und der Realismus in der griechischen Kunst. Tübingen: E. Wasmuth, pp. 76-85, pls. 56-58.

    1985. "Greek Bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 43(2): no. 41, pp. 11, 60-1.

    Kozloff, Arielle and David Gordon Mitten. 1988. The Gods Delight. Ohio: Cleveland Museum of Art, no. 22, pp. 137-40.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 244, pp. 210, 452.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History